Monday, October 29, 2007

Silencing journalists the easy way?

It seems, the killing of journalists has become a common event in the former Soviet Union... Beginning from the murder of famous Vladislav Listyev (1956-1995)(below) and ending with Anna Politkovskaya's death (see on this blog), silencing of 'independent' minded journalists by death has become a tool to suppress freedom of speech and instill fear in the society. One more happened recently in Kyrgyzstan. A 26 year old Uzbek journalist, Alisher Saipov, an editor of an independent Uzbek-language weekly on political and social issues was shot three times at a close range. The event has sparked the attention of the UNESCO chief who in a recent press release condemned the killing of journalists.

Freedom of speech and conscience, including freedom of press are essential rights in a civilized society. Any style of democracy, Western or Eastern, demands protection of this fundamental right. In a society where people who freely speak their minds are silenced brutally, democracy cannot ever materialize... It is true that freedom of speech is not an absolute and it must not be at a cost of inciting violence... But the law does not protect that type of speech. It is clear that if speech brings forth imminent violence and by its very uttering results in it, the society is not prepared to recognize that. But speech that promotes debate, opens doors to honest criticism and evaluation, at all times respecting the opponents and those who disagree, is a cherished freedom... The journalists who are at the forefront of information dissemination and telling the story of the day are especially vulnerable, because by its nature their job requires freedom of speech.

Putting the bird into a cage will stop its singing... As far as killing it, it is just absolute barbarism. Well, it is the easiest way to ensure that it will never sing again... Is this regular street crime? Or organized crime? No one really knows. Since these types of things happened much too often in the Soviet era, I am simply predisposed to rule out regular street crime...

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